Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Year 1 In Quotes

I made it! First year as an elementary school counselor in multiple buildings is COMPLETE! Well, the kids are done, anyways. :) 
Many of the great educators in my life frequently utilize quotes.  Over the past year, I have also made frequent attempts to incorporate them into my daily work with students. In fact, I've been tossing around the idea of adding a "Quote of the Week" with our normal "Word of the Week" next year. Wheels are turning...

Needless to say, I decided to do a little self-reflection on the past school year. With quotes as my inspiration!


I learned this pretty darn quick. We have ~8 hours a day to show these kids that someone cares. 
This can be as simple as a hug or a "What's new with you?"

Coming into a district that didn't have elementary school counselors for a very long time, teaching students the concept of empathy was high on my priority list. I even plastered reminders around the school using templates such as this one, courtesy of School Counselor Blog. 

Who are we kidding? There are days where we have 567 other things on our minds, or days that we would have loved to stay curled up in bed for a few more hours. This quote served as my reminder to be completely, 100% present with every student, group, teacher, etc. that I encountered...

We learned this in probably every counseling course we ever had. However, what a great reminder! Our job is to be there for our students in need. To listen, to comfort, to motivate, and again, empathize. One of my fellow 1st year teachers had a similar end-of-the-year reflection: "I wasn't aware that we'd also be a parent, counselor, nurse, podiatrist, etc, etc...." :)

Again with the A.M. motivation. Are there mornings where we want to just do the messy bun and glasses? Absolutely. 
But when we look better, we feel better, and we're more ready to fulfill Quote #3.


There were several instances this year where I was so hard on myself because a lesson could have gone better, or I thought of a prompt for a student 25 minutes after our session. Ugh. This quote reminded me that I'm only human, and that future success isn't possible without beginner's blunders. 

This immediately makes me think of working with parents. One of my biggest fears entering into this job was encountering an irate parent and clamming up. However, it didn't end up to be so bad. Did those parents call/stop in? Definitely. And some really did know what they were talking about! But this quote reminds me to remain calm, and if all else fails-kill 'em with kindness :)

I love this one. This really weighed on me this year due to having three buildings of students. I constantly wanted to attend to every student need that was brought to my attention...which made me feel like I was constantly doggy-paddling. I'm going to focus on the optimist perspective next year.  


There are there lots of other things I'd love to "give" my students to "fix" things for them & ensure they have all they need to succeed and thrive. But realistically, these are the important things that we can "give", and for very little cost.

This should be our end-of-the-day checklist. With data to prove it, of course. :)


I was inspired every day this year! Wish they knew this! 

Hope everyone had a great 2013-2014 school year. 
I am so thankful for a great first year in the most wonderful profession.
I encourage you to utilize quotes to inspire your school counseling practice! 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Summer & Back-to-School Transitions

I recently wrote an article for the Family section of our local newspaper. 

Away from home

Easing anxiety about the transition to more independence

June 3, 2014
By ERIN REBLING - Elementary School Counselor (Mifflin County School District,Lewistown Sentinel
LEWISTOWN - Summer has arrived! You've survived another academic year! Now it's time for sleeping in, vacationing and relaxing. However, summer can also bring sleep-away camps and anticipation of full-day kindergarten or a new school. These situations may bring about excitement for new experiences or fear of sudden independence.
It is important to note that experiencing separation anxiety is a normal part of early development, and it can relapse in various stages as children develop from infant to school-age. Childrens' levels of parental attachment, self-control and trust among other adults can fluctuate during this time. These changes may result in stress, tears and at times, even tantrums. To help ease both your child's and your own separation worries, we've provided some strategies and tips.
For sleep-away camps, The American Camp Association of New York & New Jersey suggests that parents:

Article Photos

Erin Rebling
Start Small - It's best if your child has successful one-night sleepovers before venturing into an entire week away from home. Overnight visits with grandparents, cousins, or friends can help build this confidence.
Consider different options - Is this a camp which involves one of your child's specific hobbies or interests? Before signing up, call and discuss the camp's philosophy, age groupings, camper expectations, etc.
Don't let them see you sweat - This is as much a transition for them as it is for you. If they see you being nervous, they'll be nervous too. Also, don't offer to pick them up if they hate it, as this suggests that they might. Be as positive as possible!
Remember the big picture - Generally, camp experiences consist of structured environments with trained, nurturing staff. Your child may be challenged to step out of their comfort zone, but they will also likely grow in confidence and make unforgettable memories.
The Parent Institute website offers a variety of tips for the transition to school:
Schedule visits or tours - Visit your child's school together and point out things they can look forward to. Be sure to identify their classroom, bathrooms and other important areas. Many schools offer orientations, bus rides or meet-the-teacher nights before school starts.
Make new friends - Are there other children in your neighborhood who are also starting school? Being able to recognize other students at school can help make your child feel more comfortable.
Provide reassurance - Let your child know that you are proud of them for getting to this point. Remind them that you can't wait to hear all about their great day.
Preparation is key - Establish a routine of laying out clothes and necessary school supplies the night before. Also, leave enough time for a good breakfast in the morning.
Hug and go - The less you linger on the first day, the better! School personnel are professionals at comforting and engaging students on the first day and every day.
There also are some fantastic children's books that address separation anxiety. Reading some of these titles together can help ease some worries and start some great discussions between parent and child. Many of these can be found at your local library!
"The Kissing Hand," by Audrey Penn
"Llama Llama Misses," Mama by Anna Dewdney
"Wemberly Worried," by Kevin Henkes
"First Day Jitters," by Julie Danneberg
Remember, you are providing your child with great academic and extracurricular opportunities. Entering into these experiences may require lots of coaxing and reassurance on your part. However, your child will likely develop valuable coping skills and be on their way to a newfound sense of independence. Best of luck!
Erin Rebling is the elementary school counselor at Indian Valley Elementary School, East Derry Elementary School and Strodes Mills Elementary School.